Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nanowrimo day 17: Hip Hop Lit

I get this question a lot, and in fact, I asked it myself after I described my novel and someone asked if it was hip hop lit.  Was that even a genre?  I googled it.  Yes!  It’s also known as “urban literature” or “street lit.”  Of those genre names, I prefer hip hop lit because my story is based in the hip hop culture.

At the center of things, there’s Icee, the rapper.  He owns Da Factory Hitz record company which has Tenille (singer) and Sarena (Artist Development) working there.  Hip hop is not only the music, it’s the fashion.  There would be no Baby Phat, Apple Bottoms or Dereon without this hip hop music inspired into the clothing. So at KStyle Fashions is where Krystle (head designer), Ashley (model) and Kitty (former Director/part owner) works.

There’s not as much music in this one as the original (though Tenille travels and performs a lot, and Nola dates an up and coming rapper).  And yes, there can be lots of music in a novel.  It’s the feel of it, the way it moves.  It’s like you hear the soundtrack in your head as you read.  I am trying to write this novel in a beat that goes with the flow of the story.  It’s done with the constant POV changes, having shorter, straight to the point chapters and lots if “hip hop dialogue” (which I need work to work on, with the help of an “urban language dictionary”).

So since I selected a specific genre for this, which I rarely do, I have gone back to my original title for it, “Six Sexy A$$ Sisters.”  I’ll just call is “SSAS” from here on out.  The reasoning is, hip hop lit/street lit is a little (okay, a lot) grimier than your average novel, so I can keep that edge to it.  In fact, it needs more!

If you’re not that familiar with hip hop lit, google it. Those titles and covers are HARD CORE!  Read them under caution.  Some are so horrific I can’t finish them.  The best I can compare mine to is “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sister Souljah.  It has more sex and drugs than violence, and it’s pretty tame compared to most.  It’s also a bit more mainstream, which I hope mine would be.

I’m not trying to scare anyone off.  I generally don’t like this genre that much.  Trust me, my six sisters read like angels compared to some of the females in this genre of books.  Heck, only one gets to shoot a gun (well, so far that is).  They are from a middle class background, in a small city in the Midwest.  They didn’t grow up around violence, but they were taught to protect themselves.  Being six sisters that look smoking hot?  Jealous women and guys trying to get to them, they learned to be tough.

Just don’t let the genre fool you, there’s so much more to this story than the hip hop nature.  That’s just the setting, the culture.  The people are every day people with great stories (well, in my opinion).   I can’t think of any book or movie with these many main characters that are sisters.  I do think of it as a combination of “Soul Food” the movie/TV show and “Deliver Us From Eva” movie.  They both had a cast of hot sisters, so hey, six of them is possible as well.     

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